South Africa mourns the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

South Africa is serving a week of mourning ahead of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s funeral, which died on sunday at 90 years old.

Every day at noon, the bells of St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town will ring for 10 minutes. A guest book has been installed in the basilica for mourners to sign.

The city councils of Cape Town and Table Mountain will also glow purple every night until the day of the funeral, scheduled for next Saturday.

Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was known around the world for his activism against apartheid and also for his defense of human rights. The president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, was in charge of announcing the death of Tutu last Sunday.

“The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of mourning in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have left us a liberated South Africa,” he said.

Tutu was much more than a spiritual leader. He spent his life defending civil rights and speaking out against injustice, corruption, and oppression.

“I wanted all human beings on Earth to experience the freedom, peace and joy that we could all enjoy if we truly respected each other. And because he worshiped God, he did not fear anyone. He pointed out evil wherever and whoever committed it, ”said Thabo Makgoba, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town.

Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his activism against the racist apartheid regime of South Africa. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Tutu put him at home on his first night in freedom.

The archbishop then introduced Mandela to the public as the country’s first black president in 1994. Tutu was in command of the country’s post-apartheid healing process, chairing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where many horrifying tales of injustice.

Despite the difficulties he faced, Tutu is remembered for his peaceful activism and his ability to forgive.

Tributes from around the world

The tributes to Tutu have been constant. US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said they were “heartbroken” at the news of Tutu’s passing.

“His courage and moral clarity helped inspire our commitment to shift US policy toward the repressive apartheid regime in South Africa,” the Bidens said in a statement.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Archbishop Demond Tutu. He was a critical figure in the fight against apartheid and in the struggle to create a new South Africa and will be remembered for his spiritual leadership and irrepressible good humor. “

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, stated that “Archbishop Tutu was a leading global figure for peace and an inspiration to generations around the world. During the darkest days of apartheid it was a shining beacon for social justice, freedom and non-violent resistance. “

The exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, stated: “Archbishop Desmond Tutu was completely dedicated to serving his brothers and sisters for the common good. He was a true humanitarian and a committed defender of human rights ”.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation considered that “Tutu’s contributions to the struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are only equaled by the depth of his thinking about building future liberators for societies. He was an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A pastor”.

After his retirement at the age of 79, Tutu continued speaking on ethical and moral issues, ranging from xenophobia to LGBTQ rights or climate change.

President Ramaphosa has called him “an unsurpassed patriot” and “a man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility.”

Tutu is survived by his wife, children, and siblings.

* With the collaboration of Vicky Stark, from Cape Town, Linda Givetash, from Johannesburg, and Antoni Belchi, from Miami; and information from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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